Bismarck Couple Shares Adoption Journey and Struggles

When it comes to adoption, North Dakota's largest minority race is Native Americans. One Bismarck couple's journey, struggles, and state policy change are all a part of their story. 

Over 2 years ago, Chad and Erin Oban decided adoption was a route they wanted to take.

Erin Oban; Senator: "We decided a long time ago that if for some reason it was not as easy as other to have a family, that we were both really supportive of the idea of adoption."

Unfortunately for the couple, their first adoption didn't go as planned.

Erin Oban; Senator: "...Ended in a still birth. So that was obviously an added challenge we were not expecting. And made it really, really difficult how we wanted to take that path forward after that."

Once Chad and Erin decided to try again.. they kept the mindset of being open to any gender or race. The couple completed a questionnaire to see if they'd be compatible to adopt a different race.

Erin Oban; Senator: "And it showed that we would be okay doing that, which was encouraging and ultimately helped us make that decision."

And for the Obans, every adoption obstacle they faced was worth it.

Erin Oban; Senator: "Without question, Evin is the baby we were supposed to have in this world. He is just fabulous."

Oban said that through her and her husband's experience, she wanted to see improvements within her home state's adoption process. She pushed two bills through the legislature this session, the first clarified the relinquishment of parental rights. The second will be a study that looks at the effectiveness of the state's overall adoption process. If Legislative Management selects the study, North Dakota will look into the adoption process, in as soon as a few months. 

132 adoptions took place in North Dakota last year. Native Americans make up the most minority adoptions, about 16% statewide. A representative from the state human services department explains how the Indian child welfare act changes the adoption process for Native Americans.
Julie Hoffman; Administrator of Adoption Services for DHS:"There are federal laws which govern the placement of Native American children and make for higher standards that the court has to comply with and that the agencies have to comply with in terms of notice to that child's tribe and the involvement of that child's tribe."
Hoffman says the tribe as a whole has to give permission for one of its children to be adopted and they have to go through extra steps in court for the adoption to be finalized.

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